What’s In A Name Week is all about the stories behind names that you can’t help but notice when you’re out in the world.
Here’s the story of one I definitely noticed when I was on a road trip years ago.
Next to a highway in northern Kentucky, not far from Cincinnati, there’s a big red and white striped water tower that says “Florence Y’All.”
Part of this is easy enough to figure out. If you look at a map of the area, there’s a small town there called Florence, Kentucky.
But what about the “Y’all”?
As WCPO-TV explained, back in the mid 1970s Florence was about to open a shopping mall.
This was going to be a big happening and the town was pretty excited about it.
They weren’t going to miss an opportunity to let travelers coming south out of Cincinnati, or those driving north from Lexington or Louisville, know about the shopping opportunities coming to their town.
So they had painters put the words “Florence Mall’ on the side of the water tower in big black letters.
There was just one problem: the Kentucky State Transportation Cabinet let Florence know that the town didn’t have the authority to use a water tower to advertise a mall that hadn’t yet been built.
They would have to take down the words saying “Florence Mall” or they could face some big fines.
But getting painters up to the top of the water tower would cost money, too.
How could they avoid fines without a whole lot of extra painting?
Mayor Hop Ewing came up with the solution. By painting just a couple of lines in the word “mall” white, and adding one black apostrophe, they could turn “Florence Mall” into “Florence Y’all.”
It cost just $500 to turn a would-be advertisement into local landmark that’s been talked about for decades.
In Canyon County, Idaho, there’s Chicken Dinner Road.
We don’t know for sure where the name came from, but one story has it that a resident, Laura Lamb, explained to then-governor Ben Ross that the road was in poor condition, and if he’d agree to some repairs, she’d agree to make him the meal for which the road is now named.
But what was the dessert? Shouldn’t they have at least named a cul-de-sac for it?
Water tower photo by madaise via Flickr/Creative Commons